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Is it time to take a sabbatical?

6 minute read
young woman in car heading off on a sabbatical

Unsatisfied with your current job? On the brink of a burnout? Feel like taking an unapologetic extended holiday?

We’ve all had moments that make us question what we’re doing, but if you’re constantly thinking that the grass might be greener on the other side, a sabbatical might be your metaphorical gate to a lush pasture.

So what is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is taking an extended period of leave from your current state of affairs to do whatever your heart desires - be it travel the world, undertake a major renovation or pursue a long-held passion without distraction.

These days, some companies have a built-in ’career break’ which employees can access at certain points in their career. This allows them to take a sabbatical and then come back to their role once they’re done.

But not everyone can be quite so lucky.

What if taking a sabbatical means leaving the security of a regular job? The thought of taking a huge financial risk might be too much for some to get past, but planning ahead and setting a few financial safety nets could be the key to a successful sabbatical.

And, the rewards are far reaching.

Not only can a sabbatical lead to a decrease in stress and the development of new skills, but it can open doors and opportunities that you never realised existed.

Young couple with toddler exploring a mountain range

Thinking about taking the adventure of a lifetime? We spoke to Sydney-based Marketing Manager, Cindy about her decision to take a sabbatical with her family.

nib: Could you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Cindy: My husband, John, and I are in our early/mid-40s with 3 kids (17, 13, and 8 years old) based in Sydney. Most of our working life has been in the corporate world in Sydney’s CBD – except for a few years, when the kids were younger and I started and ran an online business. I currently work as a Marketing Manager and John as a Project Manager. We’ve lived an average middle-class life so far – married, house, kids.

nib: Why did you decide to take a sabbatical?

Cindy: Our day to day lives are filled with routine. Wake up, get to work/school, come home… do it all again tomorrow. In winter, our weekends are filled with kids’ sport. When we’re at home, everyone is glued to a screen – be it a phone, a TV or a laptop. We need something to short circuit the routineness of it all and reconnect with each other. I wanted us to reconnect as a family and there’s no better way to do that than to get out of our comfort zone and travel to non-English speaking countries together.

With our kids growing up in a multi-cultural society in Australia I feel it’s important for them to be exposed to the world and different cultures. In doing so, I hope they come to understand and be more tolerant of people who are different from them. I want them to have their stereotypes challenged and be educated firsthand about people – not just from the media and the opinions of others.

Life’s too short for ‘what ifs’; no one is guaranteed a tomorrow, much less a healthy tomorrow. My father passed away suddenly at 46 - our age. One day he was there, next day he was gone. It’s something that plays in the back of my mind quite a lot. We wanted to do this while we can, while the kids are still young enough, and while we’re still healthy enough to deal with the physical demands of a year on the road.

I could list many more reasons as to why we’ve decided to take a sabbatical, but the simplest answer to the question would really be: why not?

Life’s too short for ‘what ifs’; no one is guaranteed a tomorrow, much less a healthy tomorrow

nib: What will you do during your sabbatical year?

Cindy: We’ll be travelling around Europe for a year. Most of our time being spent in Spain, but we’ll be moving around quite a bit trying to soak it all in, spending time in cities and rural villages. We don’t have family or friends we can stay with in Europe – except for a brother who coincidentally moved to Switzerland for work a few weeks ago – so we’ll really be on our own for most of the year.

It’s a terrifying but liberating thought that spurs on momentary anxiety.

nib: How did you take the jump to do it?

Cindy: With a lot of planning and preparation.

It’s taken a few years of saving to make sure we are in a financial position to both stop working for a year. We’re generally not big spenders but it has still taken real discipline to slowly work towards a goal. Both John and I are also lucky enough to be working for companies that offer ‘career breaks’ to their employees. So we applied for it and both of us have had our leave approved. I see this as a real bonus and am grateful this is how it all worked out. It will put our minds at ease knowing we have jobs to return to.

We’ve also timed our year away with the kids’ schooling. Our eldest has just finished her HSC so it’s a good gap year for her and our other two children (Year nine and Year four in school year 2018) will continue their schooling under the NSW curriculum via Distance Education while we travel.

As much as we’ve tried to plan for the big things and put safety nets in place with travel insurance that covers what we want to do, and life insurance that covers us while overseas, I’m sure the year ahead will contain many ‘flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants’ moments - but that’s just all part of the adventure!

It’s important to get your ducks in a row before setting off on your sabbatical. Organising your Life Insurance is a great place to start. nib’s Life Insurance with worldwide coverage could protect you financially if anything were to happen to you, whether in Australia or overseas.

The fine print

Products promoted by nib health care services pty ltd ABN 91 003 037 625 AR Number 321683 of TAL Direct Pty Limited ABN 39 084 666 017 AFSL 243260 which also administers policies and claims. TAL Life Limited, ABN 70 050 109 450 AFSL 237848 is the issuer of the life insurance benefits and St Andrew’s Insurance (Australia) Pty Ltd, ABN 89 075 044 656 AFSL 239649 is the issuer of the Involuntary Unemployment Cover. The information given here is general advice only and does not take into account your personal financial situation, needs or objectives. You should consider the appropriateness of this advice, having regard to your financial situation, needs and objectives. Please consider the combined Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to buy or to continue to hold this product.

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